English Language Study Skills and the Internet (ELSSI)

Computer connecting to Internet

Module 2: Vocabulary Building
ELSSI Navigation

In this module, we will look at some ways in which we can use the internet to build our vocabulary. Some questions I would like you to think about are:

(1) Are some words more important to learn than others? Why or why not?

(2) Is it possible to learn a new word after seeing or hearing it only one time? Why or why not?

(3) Is being able to use a word correctly in writing or speaking the same as remembering the meaning when we see or hear it?

First, most people would agree that some words are more important to learn than others. The reason for this is that some words appear (in most writing and speaking) more often than others (Nation, 2001). Making sure we know these high-frequency words will help us understand more of what we read or hear. A newer version of the General Service List includes 2,284 words. Prof. K. H. Yang has grouped this larger list into 9 sub-lists. Word lists such as these are a good starting point. After you gain confidence with these words, you can go on to other lists such as those for Academic Words, Specific Subjects, and Less Frequent Words.

Second, few people can learn new words after seeing or hearing them only one time. Of course some words are easier to remember or learn than others, but most people will need to meet a word several times before they can remember it and several more times before they can use it comfortably. For this reason, it is a good idea to read and listen to wide variety of material that is somewhat easy for you. I say "somewhat easy" because too many new words can overload the brain. We will be talking more about this kind of reading and listening in the next two modules.

Third, being able to use a word correctly in writing and speaking is not the same as remembering the meaning when you see or hear it. Normally, you will need to see or hear a word in several different contexts before you have mastered it enough to use it correctly. This does not mean you shouldn't try. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all.

In conclusion, building your vocabulary is one of the most important parts of learning a new language. There are plenty of good resources on the Internet, but to make them work you need to use them and use them frequently (i.e. again and again). However, learning vocabulary from lists, quizzes and puzzles is not enough. Instead, you will gain more from good practice with reading, listening, writing and speaking. We will discuss these skills in the next few modules.

Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(1) Visit the Activities for ESL Students website and try three or four vocabulary tests at different levels of difficulty.
(2) Visit the Interesting Things for ESL Students website and try three or four activities.

(1) Find one vocabulary quiz that is a good level for you (not too easy or too difficulty). Take notes on how you found it (include URLs) and send these notes to me together with your score and the words you got wrong. Due on 10/18 (Mon).
(2) Participate in the ELSSI Forum at MSN Groups. Initial postings will be due on 10/18 (Mon) and responses to at least two classmates will be due on 10/25 (Mon).
(3) Post your thoughts, questions and comments on this module in your blog. Due by 10/25 (Mon).

ESL Blues - For pre-intermediate to high-intermediate learners, this website includes several level check tests.
English Quizzes - Quizzes for both vocabulary, grammar, TOEIC, TOEFL, reading, etc.
ESL Quiz Center - Part of Dave Sperling's website.
The Quiz Center - Part of Karin's ESL Partyland.
Phonetics: The Sounds of American English - Example vocabulary are included for each sound.
Interactive Quizzes - Focussed mainly on grammar, but can be used for vocabulary study.
Word Surfing - Advice and activities for building vocabulary.
iTools - The language page here includes a dictionary, thesaurus and translation tools.

ELSSI Navigation

- Introduction
  This is the ELSSI homepage.

- Syllabus
  Includes course description, goals and other useful information.

- Schedule
  A list of starting and ending dates for each module.

- Evaluation
  Grading rubric for evaluating learner performance and survey to evaluate the course.

- Module One
- Module Three
- Module Four
- Module Five
- Module Six
- Module Seven

High-Frequency -  appearing or occurring more often than others
Overload - put too much on
Context -  situation

This course was designed and developed as a requirement for the L630 Course Development for Online Educators course through the Education Department at Indiana University.
The work of both Karen Hallett and Eileen Cotton provided inspiration for the content and organization of this course. This page was created using Netscape Navigator Gold.

Contact Information
For more information, email me at bjones_jp@yahoo.com.

This page last updated on September 12, 2004.
Copyright © 2004 Brent A. Jones. All rights reserved.